For the second time in as many nights, there was an Anaheim Ducks preseason game at the Honda Center. Wednesday night’s contest was against the San Jose Sharks and unfortunately, the results were not any better than the previous game. The Ducks are 0-2 to start the preseason, the result of a 1-6 loss to their division rivals.
Here were the line combinations from the start of the game:
Bobby Ryan | Ryan Getzlaf | Corey Perry
Jason Blake | Rick Schofield | Brian McGrattan
Nicolas Deschamps | Mark Bell | Andrew Gordon
Jean-Francois Jacques | Nick Bonino | George Parros
Francois Beauchemin | Cam Fowler
Luca Sbisa | Mat Clark
Matt Smaby | Sheldon Brookbank
Jeff Deslauriers | Iiro Tarkki
Despite having an early power play, the Ducks did not manage a single shot on goal until the 16:52 mark. The first SOG wasn’t even an actual shot, but a dump-in that went on goal. In the final 3:08 of the first period, the Ducks managed 5 shots on goal, including a goal.
Coach Randy Carlyle kept his top players together, keeping the RPG line in tact with Beauchemin and Fowler on defense with them. It seemed that they were trying new things, with both D-men activating and carrying the puck down low while Getzlaf covered the point for extended periods of time. Both Beauchemin and Fowler have the ability to make plays deep in the offensive zone, and Getzlaf handled himself well defensively when the play went the other way.
The power play went 0 for 3 tonight. The first unit (Ryan, Getzlaf, Perry, Beauchemin, Fowler) had great movement but little traffic and few shots. The second power play unit (Blake, Bonino, Gordon, Sbisa, Clark) had more traffic in front of the net, but also failed to get many shots through.
The penalty kill was busy, tasked with attempting to kill off a lengthy 5-on-3 power play. The Sharks did manage to capitalize 3 seconds before the first penalty expired. The Ducks’ PK got especially aggressive as the game progressed, taking more risks to create scoring chances instead of simply clearing the zone. Their attempts backfired, however, as the Sharks scored two more power play goals in the third period.
The Ducks spent a lot of time in their own zone, having difficulty controlling the puck, clearing the front of the net, and breaking out of the zone. Their scrambling defense led to multiple San Jose goals.
RPG Line: Many people are probably wondering how a team boasting Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf, and reigning MVP Corey Perry got blown out by a San Jose team largely consisting of rookies. The big line wasn’t dominating the game like they usually can. They weren’t cycling the puck and wearing down their opponents. They seemed to be focusing more on attacking on the rush and making centering or cross-ice passes. Also, as previously mentioned, they were allowing the D to jump into the play and leaving Getzlaf at the point. Should they have scored? Of course they should have. They showed flashes of brilliance with great passes and dazzling moves, but their timing was just a bit off. As they get back into things, they’ll start burying their scoring chances. Getzlaf was 6-10 in the faceoff circle for a disappointing .375 FO%. The trio all ended the night with a -2 rating and 1 shot on goal each.
Andrew Gordon was by far the most impressive player in a Ducks jersey last night, and not only because he was the only one to put the puck in the back of the net. The newly-acquired RW was one of the most impressive players during the training camp practices, and he continued to make a statement in his first preseason game for the Ducks. Gordon was all over the ice, skating hard in all three zones, with or without the puck. He made something happen whenever he was on the ice. Carlyle thought enough of him to put him out there in all situations: even strength, on the power play, and short handed. Although he is somewhat of a smaller forward (5’11″, 180 lbs.) Gordon was aggressive with the body, finishing all of his checks and taking his opponents out of the play. He displayed great speed, tireless effort, and the ability to execute dekes at high speed. His hockey sense (and a bit of luck) put him in perfect position to collect a blocked shot and put it past San Jose goalie Thomas Greiss. He was the only forward to finish with a positive +/- rating (+1). Ducks fans have plenty to be excited about with this young right wing.
Nicolas Deschamps was another player who impressed during the training camp practices. It was an exciting prospect to be able to see both he and Gordon on the same line during a game. Unfortunately, Deschamps didn’t leave quite the same impression as his linemate. While he was keeping up with his line in terms of speed and intensity, his decision making on the ice wasn’t quite up to par. It’s one thing to excel in drills, and another to be able to perform at a high level in a game situation. There were a few occasions when Deschamps had the puck and seemed to panic and proceeded to give the puck away instead of making a safe play. Some more time with Syracuse should do wonders for his development. The talent and the potential are still there.
Brian McGrattan was playing a physical, aggressive game, although he was only officially credited with 1 hit. He had 2 shots on goal and will provide the organization with a strong physical presence, whichever team he ends up playing for.
Jason Blake didn’t seem to find much chemistry with his linemates throughout the night. The veteran LW only managed 1 shot on goal and 2 hits in 14:45 time on ice.
George Parros and Jean-Francois Jacques played on a line together, providing for a giant unit of intimidation. However, they weren’t nearly as physical as should have been expected. Parros had 0 hits (and 0 in all other statistical categories) and Jacques had 2 hits and 1 shot on goal.
Rick Schofield, Mark Bell, and Nick Bonino all were unable to make lasting impressions throughout the game. Schofield was by far the most impressive in the faceoff circle, going 9-4 for a .692 FO%. Bonino had a respectable .471 (8-9) and Bell was .364 (4-7).
Cam Fowler put on some weight in the offseason and was throwing it around on the ice. He was only credited with 1 hit, but he was playing the body much more. He made plays in tight situations look easy and looked comfortable skating with defensive partner Francois Beauchemin. Fowler took 3 shots on goal and played 20:42, ending with a -2 rating.
Francois Beauchemin blocked 4 shots and took 4 shots of his own in a hefty 24:14 TOI. The veteran was also -2 on the night.
Luca Sbisa wasn’t as physical as fans know he is capable of being. He only recorded 1 hit in his 19:55 of time on ice. He looked comfortable playing with rookie Mat Clark as his defensive partner. They both ended the night with a -1 rating.
Mat Clark looked much better than he did last year. He played much better positional defense and was smart about using his body. The tough defenseman had 3 hits during his 18:53 of ice time.
Matt Smaby had a better night than he did against the Coyotes. He made better plays with the puck and was better positionally. One of his point shots was blocked by a San Jose defender and went straight to Andrew Gordon, leading to the Ducks’ only goal. Smaby ended the night with 1 assist and a +1 rating.
Sheldon Brookbank had a solid night overall. He made a couple great stretch passes, but also flubbed some passes. He was one of only three Ducks to finish with a positive rating (+1).
Jeff Deslauriers had a very strong night, stopping 12 of 14 shots, including all 7 in the first period. He displayed a quick glove hand, which he has been doing all throughout training camp. He is very strong on the ice, making many tough pad saves down low. He also had an aggressive attitude, standing up for himself on multiple occasions. He shoved away two Sharks at the same time when they crashed the net, and also got his blocker up in the face of Logan Couture when the young Shark was charging hard on a rush. Deslauriers showed great awareness during the penalty kill, picking off centering passes and stopping play whenever possible. He had great movement throughout the 5-on-3 penalty, but was caught in a VHS fail on the goal against. He was going into the VH stance when Jason Demers fired his centering pass to Couture who directed the puck past Deslaurier’s pad. The second goal against was a goalmouth scramble that went off multiple Ducks defenders before Tommy Wingels jumped on the rebound and put it past Deslauriers.
Iiro Tarkki did not have nearly as bad of a game as the scoreboard would lead one to believe. He made 10 saves on 14 shots in a largely forgettable night. His first goal against came quick before he had a good chance to get warmed up. Couture skated through the slot and tipped in a centering feed over the glove of Tarkki. The second goal was another scramble by the defense, who were unable to clear the puck from the front of the net. The third and fourth goals were on the power play: one that went off of a lot of bodies before being finished by Sean Sullivan, the other off of an Andrew Murray deflection with a screen in front of Tarkki. It was a dismal night for the Ducks as a whole, but there wasn’t much negative reaction from Tarkki which speaks to his mental fortitude. There is much to like about his game, and he should provide Syracuse with some quality time in net.